history, Women, American, Revolution, biography, MARY WASHINGTON, ESTHER REED, CATHARINE SCHUYLER
When Mrs. Ellet compiled her history of "The Women of the Revolution," she could not have foreseen the deep interest in Colonial and Revolutionary history, that was destined to mark the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, nor could she have realized that the various patriotic societies that were to be organized among women, would lead to as great an interest in the lives of the mothers as in those of the fathers of the Republic. Yet the writer of these sketches of noted women has prepared for just such a phase of American life, which makes her work now appear a prophecy of the future as well as a summary of past events.
"The Women of the Revolution" having been published in the middle of the century, the material for these biographical sketches was collected while some men and women were still living who could recall the faces and figures of the statesmen and soldiers of the Revolutionary struggle. When the sketch of Mrs. Philip Schuyler went to press, the daughter of that heroic lady was still living in Washington, and able to relate for the entertainment of her friends stirring incidents of her mother's life, and of her own life in camp with Mrs. Washington, when as Miss Betsey Schuyler she won the heart of the General's young aide-de-camp, the brilliant, versatile Hamilton. Another interesting character, who was living while Mrs. Ellet's work was in course of preparation, was Mrs. Gerard G. Beekman, whose mind was a storehouse of Revolutionary incidents and adventures, of many of which she was herself the heroine or an eyewitness.
There are in these volumes many proofs that Mrs. Ellet availed herself of the opportunities afforded her to draw from original sources. In some instances, the author acknowledged her indebtedness to the rich fields of reminiscence in which it was her privilege to glean, in other passages the result of such gleaning is evident from the minuteness and vividness with which she portrayed certain characters and depicted the scenes and circumstances in which they moved.
In offering this work to the public, it is due to the reader no less than the writer, to say something of the extreme difficulty which has been found in obtaining materials sufficiently reliable for a record designed to be strictly authentic. Three-quarters of a century have necessarily effaced all recollection of many imposing domestic scenes of the Revolution, and cast over many a veil of obscurity through which it is hard to distinguish their features. Whatever has not been preserved by contemporaneous written testimony, or derived at an early period from immediate actors in the scenes, is liable to the suspicion of being distorted or discolored by the imperfect knowledge, the prejudices, or the fancy of its narrators. It is necessary always to distrust, and very often to reject traditionary information. Much of this character has been received from various sources, but I have refrained from using it in all cases where it was not supported by responsible personal testimony, or where it was found to conflict in any of its details with established historical facts.
THE WOMEN OF THE REVOLUTION.
FREDERICA DE RIEDESEL.
HANNAH ERWIN ISRAEL.
SARAH REEVE GIBBES.
ELIZABETH, GRACE, AND RACHEL MARTIN,
BEHETHLAND FOOTE BUTLER.
THE WOMEN OF WYOMING.